House Dems Unveil Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform Package

Bills call for greater transparency and accountability from lawmakers and state officers.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
House Democratic members and special guest, Jocelyn Benson, unveiled the ‘Reform Government Now’ package that would make government fair, transparent and ethical at the Capitol on Feb. 2, 2012.

LANSING - The Michigan House Democrats today introduced an ethics and campaign finance reform package to close the revolving door between the public and the private sectors and to provide citizens with greater transparency and accountability from elected and appointed officials.

“We agree with the Governor in his State of the State Address that government needs to be more open and accountable. In fact, we passed bills to do that last year before the Republican-led Senate killed the package,” said House Democratic Leader Richard E. Hammel (Mt. Morris Township). “With the Governor’s renewed calls for transparency, we’re happy to again push this issue in the hopes that the other side will be more willing to seriously address our concerns and put in place true lobbying, campaign finance and ethics reform and corporate accountability.”

“The people of this state deserve to have the protections afforded by these bills now—not later,” said Democratic Floor Leader Kate Segal (Battle Creek). “People need to know state government officials are not up for sale and that the election process is as transparent as possible.”

The package contains 16 bills and one constitutional amendment and looks to address corporate accountability, campaign finance and ethics reform. Among other things, the House Democrats’ package of bills would:

  • Create a two year “cooling off” period for elected officials and a one year period for department directors who attempt to move directly into lobbying to close the revolving door between public and private work.
  • Require personal financial disclosure from appointed and elected officials. Michigan is one of only three states with no financial disclosure requirements.
  • Strengthen conflict of interest provisions for legislators, prohibit state elected officials from applying for or accepting state grants, and make it illegal for individuals to solicit or accept campaign contributions while in a state facility.
  • Toughen campaign finance disclosure and corporate accountability after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted limits on corporate spending in campaigns and prevent state contractors, companies that accept federal bail-out money, and foreign-controlled corporations from spending money in Michigan elections.
  • Increase transparency by forcing corporations making expenditures in campaigns or for lobbying purposes to comply with the law and publically disclose funders.
  • Eliminate “Pay to Play” politics by banning the state from awarding any contract over $100,000 to a contractor or vendor who made campaign contributions to elected officials.
  • Require “robo-calls” to clearly state the name and address of the organization paying for them.

“As democratic vice chair of the House Redistricting and Elections Committee, I will be working diligently to increase transparency in our elections,” said State Representative Barb Byrum (Onondaga). “We can all agree that everyone wins when our residents have more knowledge and a greater access to information as to how money is spent in our elections.”

“Outside influences attempting to tamper with elections in Michigan and those big money corporations, who seek to influence policy, must be held accountable for their actions thereby promoting a healthier and more-informed debate on the serious issues we’re tackling,” said State Representative Joan Bauer (Lansing). “These reforms will make the campaign cycles in Michigan much clearer in regards to who is paying for what message and will allow our residents a more clear understanding of the issues.”